Tunne Kelam: Speeches at the plenary session of the European Parliament on Holodomor, October 22 and 23, 2008

Posted in Russia , Human Rights | 27-Oct-08

Tunne Kelam

Artificial, man-made famines were used systematically as a tool by Communist totalitarian regimes to increase their hold on enslaved populations.

75 years ago, Soviet dictator Stalin decided to uproot Ukrainian national identity and Ukrainian resistance by creating a famine in the bread basket of Europe. He not only confiscated all available grain to be used for exports in order to buy Western technology for enforcing industrialization and militarization of the Soviet Union, but he also decided to use the resulting famine to punish millions of farmers who resisted forced collectivisation – the establishment of total state control over their lives and traditional ways of production.

Regions struck by the famine were not merely denied assistance. Even worse, hundreds of villages were cordoned off by the Red Army. Hundreds of thousands of starving people were denied a most elementary human right - the right to escape from certain death. People who tried to flee were hunted down like animals and shot.

Finally today we are reacting to one of the most appalling crimes by the Communist dictatorship – deliberately starving people to death. An authoritative moral and political assessment of such crimes is long overdue.

All victims of crimes against humanity deserve the same status. There cannot be first class victims of Nazism and second class victims of Communism just because Europe still lacks an integrated approach to the totalitarian crimes of the past century and because Europe has hesitated to take a concrete stand on the crimes that took place in the Eastern part of the continent.

We have a duty to learn what happened under Stalin just as well as we know what happened under Hitler.

We need not only to extend our solidarity to the Ukrainian nation, indeed, to all victims of these mass crimes against humanity, but also to pass a moral verdict. Only in this way can we reach the goal of the current debate - to guarantee that this monumental, destructive disregard for human lives and dignity will never again be repeated in any part of Europe.

What we really need is an all-European reconciliation. However, reconciliation can only result from truth and justice. Our duty is to make sure that the famous "Never Again!" will equally apply to the Ukrainian nation.